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Tuning a Guitar --how??

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izzy 03 Aug 03 - 07:14 PM
Bill D 03 Aug 03 - 07:17 PM
Clinton Hammond 03 Aug 03 - 08:14 PM
Bassic 03 Aug 03 - 08:15 PM
Malcolm Douglas 03 Aug 03 - 09:47 PM
Mudlark 04 Aug 03 - 12:58 AM
Murray MacLeod 04 Aug 03 - 04:00 AM
Kaleea 04 Aug 03 - 04:34 AM
Forsh 04 Aug 03 - 06:08 AM
izzy 04 Aug 03 - 08:26 AM
GUEST 04 Aug 03 - 09:42 AM
Grab 04 Aug 03 - 12:11 PM
izzy 04 Aug 03 - 02:53 PM
Willie-O 04 Aug 03 - 09:48 PM
Clinton Hammond 04 Aug 03 - 10:59 PM
izzy 05 Aug 03 - 08:50 AM
GUEST,Strollin' Johnny 05 Aug 03 - 12:48 PM
HuwG 06 Aug 03 - 09:21 AM
Louie Roy 06 Aug 03 - 10:42 AM
GUEST,Strollin' Johnny 06 Aug 03 - 12:21 PM
Clinton Hammond 06 Aug 03 - 01:42 PM
Mark Clark 06 Aug 03 - 02:18 PM
Willie-O 06 Aug 03 - 02:31 PM
Mark Clark 06 Aug 03 - 03:42 PM
greg stephens 06 Aug 03 - 06:44 PM
Grab 06 Aug 03 - 07:52 PM
izzy 06 Aug 03 - 08:15 PM
GUEST,Strollin' Johnny 07 Aug 03 - 12:53 PM
GUEST,Steven G. 08 Aug 03 - 02:18 PM
GUEST,Steven G. 08 Aug 03 - 02:24 PM
GUEST,AR282 09 Aug 03 - 12:53 PM
Mark Clark 09 Aug 03 - 02:30 PM
McGrath of Harlow 09 Aug 03 - 07:55 PM
Murray MacLeod 09 Aug 03 - 08:24 PM
Mark Clark 09 Aug 03 - 11:18 PM
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Subject: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: izzy
Date: 03 Aug 03 - 07:14 PM

I bought a guitar about a year ago, but since then it got knocked over when it was standing in the hall and the tuning knobs were turned and it is now seriously out of tune. Does anyone have any tips for tuning it by ear? Is it a good idea to try to tune it to the recorder? I unfortunately don't have a tuning fork or a tuning pipe. Also, once tuned, is it possible to secure the knobs in some way so that it doesn't get easily jolted out of tune again?


Please forgive any silly questions --I'm not the world's greatest guitar expert.

Cheers,

Isabel


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: Bill D
Date: 03 Aug 03 - 07:17 PM

there ARE online guitar tuning sites and downloadable tuning programs...but easiest way is to get one of those electronic tuning devices from a music store.


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 03 Aug 03 - 08:14 PM

Isn't the dial tone on the phone A440?? A good place to start no?

And Is... never be ashamed of asking what might seem like a silly question... We were ALL of us as uncertain as you are now, at some point in our lives...

:-)


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: Bassic
Date: 03 Aug 03 - 08:15 PM

Dont know what the tuning sites say but if you have the ability to tune 2 strings so they sound the same then there is a simple method if you havnt got an electronic tuner to hand.

Tune the bottom string, (for the purpose of this method thats the one furthest away from you as you hold the guitar in the usual position for playing but the one that plays the highest note) so that it plays E. The recorder will give you a suitable E.

Then put your finger on the 5th fret of the next string up and tune it so that it plays the same note E. Play the two strings one after the other, adjusting the 2nd string with the tuning peg until you get them to play the same note E (remember to keep holding the 2nd string down on the 5th fret).

Do the same with the 2nd and 3rd strings but this time holding down the 4th fret (the note is B this time).

Then the same with the 3rd and 4th strings but this time back to the 5th fret (G this time).

Carry on with the 4th and 5th strings, again on the 5th fret (note D), and finaly the 5th and 6th string still on the 5th fret again (note A).

As a final check play the 6th string (the lowest sounding) against the 1st string (the highest sounding). They should both play note E but 2 octaves apart (a low E and a high E). This should get you somewhere close and you will get better at it the more you do it. Good luck.


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 03 Aug 03 - 09:47 PM

One thing; don't try to lock the tuners, though you could check to make sure that the fall hasn't loosened the little retaining screws. Strings expand and contract according to temperature and humidity (and age and use), and the machine heads are there so that you can adjust tension to compensate for this. If the guitar falls over, chances are that it will go out of tune, and there is nothing you can do to prevent this (though you could buy a stand for it). It is normal, and happens to everyone from time to time. The day will come, too, when you will have to put a new set of strings on your instrument (they don't last for ever) and practice now will help to prepare you. There are any number of books for beginners which explain all that in detail, with diagrams.

There is an old and rather tired joke often told by performers who find that their instrument has suddenly gone out of tune at an awkward moment. It goes something on the lines of "That's odd; it was in tune when I bought it".


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: Mudlark
Date: 04 Aug 03 - 12:58 AM

Hi Isabel...

Bassic has given you a good starting place...to fine tune, find the octaves in simple chords like Am and Em and listen for resonance. A lot of guitar players now use electronic tuners. For some reason they always screw me up. But a good quality pitch pipe for the guitar is about $6 US in any music store. As long as the strings are tuned relative to each other the chords will play true. So some people actually tune up or down to fit their voice. On the other hand, some guitars really sing only when tuned to concert pitch (starting with that E that Bassic mentioned).

If your guitar is one that you value it might also be wise to keep it in a case rather than leaving it out. It's safer, and more likely to stay in tune, at least that has been my experience.


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 04 Aug 03 - 04:00 AM

Isabel, may I suggest you read this thread on Tuning the Guitar Correctly .

btw, is your guitar a Taylor ? Everyone I know called Martin seems to play a personalized guitar ....


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: Kaleea
Date: 04 Aug 03 - 04:34 AM

While this thread deals with the subject of tuning, might I mention the possibility of a reputable Guitar Educator? When teaching how to play the Guitar, I teach the how-to's of use & care of it also. In this day & age of battery powered tuners which are mostly easy to operate, even the very young students may learn rather quickly how to tune their Guitar. A good Music store should not only sell you one, but also show you how to operate it! After awhile, one should be able to "hear" how to tune the stringed instrument with another instrument giving you the basic "E" note, or by tuning the thing based on the overall sound which most of the strings make.
    If all else fails, one might put an ad in the personals looking for a Guitar playing friend of the opposite sex (or whatever floats one's boat) to meet you at a very public place to assist you in tuning your Guitar. How might they recognize you? Why, you'll be the one with the Guitar! This might be the best method of tuning yet!


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: Forsh
Date: 04 Aug 03 - 06:08 AM

Also worth looking in at: Chords & Tunig Help1

Or even Here: More Help!

Hope These Help, One of them has interactive tuning and chord guide, they are both quite good sites.
Happy Pluckin' Dude!


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: izzy
Date: 04 Aug 03 - 08:26 AM

Thanks all for the extremely illuminating advice. No it's not a personalised guitar, it's just a little student thing that cost under $100. It has a very nice tone, though, and I am saving up for a proper guitar case to fit it. Maybe someday some big guitar maker will come out with an Isabel Taylor Commemorative Edition like the one they made for Martin Carthy...

Once I get my guitar back in tune and start playing it, you understand!!

Cheers, Isabel :}


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Aug 03 - 09:42 AM

I second the recommendation that you get a little electronic tuner.

I tuned my guitar to pianos, pitch pitch pipes and other instruments for years and was never totally happy with the results. Returning to music after a long hiatus, I saw another player using an electronic tuner. He let me try it, and my first response was "that's cheating." My second one was to rush out and buy one for myself. They're cheap and make life MUCH easier.

Why is easier better....because your guitar needs to be tuned every time you play it. Sad, but true. Guitars flex microscopically in response to changes in temperature and humidity, and these changes take the strings out of tune. When the weather is constant the tuning adjustments are minimal, but let a big system go through and you can be off by as much as a 1/4 tone.

Also, you need to change the strings a couple of times a year (at the very least). Tightening and loosening the strings as you tune them and the vibrations of playing induce metal fatigue, which changes the molecular structure of the steel. They stop resonating properly, become much harder to tune and susceptible to breakage.

Enjoy playing!!!!


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: Grab
Date: 04 Aug 03 - 12:11 PM

Electronic tuners start at about $10, so the cost is no reason not to get one. The Korg CA-30 is a good tuner (chromatic) and very cheap. For a couple of bucks less you can get a guitar-specific version which only tunes E,A,D,G and B, but for $15 you might as well get the proper one.

Tip: forget about saving up for a hard-shell case. So long as no-one you know is planning on attacking your guitar with a hammer, a soft case is cheaper. :-) More useful would be to have a tuner. Next most useful would be to have new strings. Even classical guitar strings only last about 6 months at most; steel strings go much quicker (maybe 2 months of average playing). If you're wondering why you can't get good tone out of the guitar, the strings could esily be the cause.

How are you learning to play? Are you learning from a course-book or something? Every course-book for beginners that I've seen has started with "Step 1: How to tune your guitar" (after the obligatory introduction of "Congratulations on buying the Joe Nonentity course-book. Joe has been playing for 20 years and has released songs which you've never heard of and went nowhere in the charts. After a lawsuit with his manager he is now stony broke, which is why he's touting this book." ;-)

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: izzy
Date: 04 Aug 03 - 02:53 PM

Lo Graham,

Well, I was learning from a coursebook just to get the basic chords, but once I had learnt those I got fed up with it and just started imitating what I heard on records (it's not laziness, it's called the artistic temperament!) But my coursebook just has very basic stuff on tuning the guitar to a piano (which I don't have.) Looks like a pitch pipe would be a VERY good idea! Thanks for the tip about a soft case, it might well be a possibility. The only problem is that the house is so small that generally the only place to put a guitar is leaning against a wall somewhere, where people and cats knock it over.

Speaking of cats, has anyone had a cat show interest in a guitar? I've got an Egyptian Mau (neurotic breed which used to chase ducks in Ancient Egypt --very intelligent) who watched me playing very intently one day. When I came back into the room I found him plucking the strings with his claws, looking very puzzled.

Cheers,

Isabel


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: Willie-O
Date: 04 Aug 03 - 09:48 PM


  1. Keep your cat away from your guitar, by any means necessary. This guitar may be "expendable" but your next one won't be!
  2. Electronic tuners are terribly useful inventions. But they are most useful for occasions when you want to tune your guitar in a situation when there's too much noise for you to hear it properly. (i.e., playing in a bar.)
  3. I don't know why everyone else tunes from the low E. I find it a lot more convenient to start by tuning the D string (third lowest sounding) to whatever will give me a concert pitch note that is doesn't waver (you don't want to try to tune to an accordion, for example). If there's one in the room, I use the piano setting on an electronic keyboard. Then tune the strings above D, by fretting at the fifth fret on the D string, fourth fret on the G string, and fifth fret on the B string. In each case, you adjust the next highest string so it is playing the exact same note as the fifth or fourth fret of the string below. If it is close but not quite the same, you will hear a wavering sound as you pluck the two strings simultaneously. When they are at the same pitch you just hear a solid tone.


    Then tune the two bass strings below the D. The easiest way is to finger the second fret on the D string, so you are playing an E, and tune the bottom E string to that note, 1 octave lower of course. Again, the beating sound will tell you if the two strings are in tune with each other. When the low E is in, tune the low A (second lowest string) to the fifth fret of the low E string.   


    It really is better to tune a guitar to itself than to tune every note separately to an electronic tuner. Faster too. You should have a good tuner, but that doesn't mean you should use it to tune every string you ever touch.

  4. There's more, but...   ...   ...

    Carry on.
    Willie-O


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 04 Aug 03 - 10:59 PM

" the only place to put a guitar is leaning against a wall"

That's not putting it away... that's putting it in harms way! Don't listen ot Grab... get a hard shell case... when/if ya upgrad yer guitar, then get a soft case for this one, and put the new one in the hard case too...

Willie is on to something... do learn to tune by ear... But get a tuner just in case...

:-)


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: izzy
Date: 05 Aug 03 - 08:50 AM

Thanks Bill and Clinton. I should be able to learn to tune by ear. With fiddle I can generally pick up tunes from CDs without sheet music, so with a bit of luck I'll be able to tune my guitar by ear too. A good hard case will be my next priority...


Cheers,

Isabel


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: GUEST,Strollin' Johnny
Date: 05 Aug 03 - 12:48 PM

There's a technique known as 'Tempered Tuning' which uses specific harmonics for tuning each string. It seems complicated at first but, once mastered, it's quick and easy and more accurate than the old 'Bottom E fifth fret = open A, A fifth fret = open D etc, etc.' I use it all the time now and it gives the 'best average' tuning which causes the least disturbance as you play in different positions around the F/B.

It was the subject of a thread on Mudcat a year or so ago but I'm damned if I can remember who started it.

It goes something like this (and I'm at work just now so I don't have my guitar handy to check myself):-

As a datum, tune the 6th string by whatever means you have (electronic tuner, pitch pipes, piano, tuning fork, guesswork, - doesn't matter unless you want to play alongside an instrument which has fixed pitch, like a piano or accordion). From there:-
Tune open 1st string to 5th fret harmonic on the 6th string.
Tune 4th string fret 2 to 12th fret harmonic on the 6th string.
Tune 2nd string fret 3 to 12th fret harmonic on the 4th string.
Tune 3rd string fret 7 to 12th fret harmonic on the 4th string.
Then tune the 5th string (12th fret harmonic) to the 3rd string fretted at 2.

Might not be dead right but I'll check it at home tonight and correct it tomorrow if necessary (unless some other smart-arse like me puts it right first!).

ENJOY!
Johnny


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: HuwG
Date: 06 Aug 03 - 09:21 AM

As temperatures in Britain head towards record heights, the same phenomenon which has caused the railway tracks to behave like cooked spaghetti, has forced me to comment on the use of electronic tuners and other aids to tuning.

These devices are fine for getting a guitar in tune with itself, for solo playing or studio work. However, if you join in a session, the guitar must be tuned to the instrument(s) which cannot be tuned; mainly fixed-reed instruments such as harmonicas and melodeons, and wind instruments such as flutes or tin whistles.

Where you are playing with such instruments, the drill is to tune to the natural frequency of the offending squeeze box, often D. Once the D string is tuned to that instrument, I generally tune using harmonics which are easier to hear in noisy pubs:

6th (E) string 5th fret harmonic to 5th (A) string 7th fret harmonic
5th (A) string 5th fret harmonic to 4th (D) string 7th fret harmonic
4th (D) string 5th fret harmonic to 3rd (G) string 7th fret harmonic
6th (E) string 5th fret harmonic to open 1st (E) string
2nd (B) string 5th fret harmonic to 1st (E) string 7th fret harmonic
Finally, 3rd (G) string 4th fret (not harmonic) to open 2nd (B) string, as a check

The other night, with the temperature recorded behind the bar as 84 degrees Fahrenheit (even with several fans blowing there, which meant the rest of the pub must have been a lot hotter), a lot of instruments definitely didn't sound their usual selves. In such cases, you will have to do it by ear, rather than with tuners.


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: Louie Roy
Date: 06 Aug 03 - 10:42 AM

Adding my two cents worth(True Story)After tuning by ear for 70 years I thought I was an expert.I was invited to join a group for a jam and was expecting a night of enjoyment.I tuned my guitar to the piano by ear and headed off to the jam.When we started playing before the first tune was over one of the musician said your guitar is out of tune so I handed it to one of the musicians and he screwed around with it for a while handed it to another and another mind you all of this by ear and when I got it back in my opinion it was really out of tune.Needless to say my evening was ruined.The next day I went to the music store and bought agood tuner for $60.00 and I made up my mind then and there no SOB would ever be able to tell me my guitar was out of tune.Since that day no one has ever mentioned my insturment was out of tune.Yes learn to tune by ear,but also buy a good electronic tuner and a good one will cost you between $60 and 70.


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: GUEST,Strollin' Johnny
Date: 06 Aug 03 - 12:21 PM

Re: Temepered Tuning, I seem to remember it's on www.guitarnotes.com/temperament

There's a VERY full explanation of why it works best (for those who need to get out more!).

HuwG - yours makes a lot of sense, I'll try it next time I get to a session and find I'm the only one at concert pitch!
Johnny


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 06 Aug 03 - 01:42 PM

"wind instruments such as flutes or tin whistles"

Any flute or tin whistle -I'VE- ever played could be tuned...


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: Mark Clark
Date: 06 Aug 03 - 02:18 PM

I've held forth on this subject in the past so I'll just include links to what I've already posted. As HuwG and others have pointed out, you may be forced to tune to something other than A-440 standard pitch. These tips will help you tune quickly and accurately in any situation. Even if you are at concert pitch, your guitar may not sound quite right when tuned to mathematical precision by an electronic tuner.

Discussion of avoiding harmonics and learning to listen for the “beat” created by overtones.

Discussion of tuning as a practiced skill and the mechanics of doing it quickly and accurately

The post at the first link actually contains a link to the second link but I include them both for the sake of completeness. The method I discuss must be learned by practice but once you have it you'll be glad you took the trouble to learn it.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: Willie-O
Date: 06 Aug 03 - 02:31 PM

All this discussion presupposes that your guitar is tuneable!

Straight neck
Decent action
Non-dead strings

are a prerequisite.

By the way, Isabel, in your original post you asked if there's a way to "secure" the tuners. If they are decent quality tuners, there is an adjustment screw on the end of each peg which allows you to do just that. Just take a small screwdriver and tighten the screw until the peg gives you some resistance when you turn it. If it gives you no resistance and immediately spins a quarter-turn when you touch it, that's the problem right there, and just as easily solved.


W-O


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: Mark Clark
Date: 06 Aug 03 - 03:42 PM

Willie-O makes an exellent point.

And don't tune up at home expecting you'll still be in tune when you arrive at your lesson or session or gig. You'll save time and stress by waiting until you arrive and other musicians are there and your instruments have begun to acclimatize.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: greg stephens
Date: 06 Aug 03 - 06:44 PM

Little trick from an oldtimer.tune just a touch sharper than the other people youre playing with.makes you sound more lively.


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: Grab
Date: 06 Aug 03 - 07:52 PM

Clinton, the cats make it a rather different problem! Add "attack with claws" to the reasons to own a hard-case... ;-)

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: izzy
Date: 06 Aug 03 - 08:15 PM

Golly, all this advice!! I can see that I'll be spending the rest of the summer trying out different tuning methods. I must admit I really envy people like Martin Carthy et al, who seem to be able to effortlessly tune up or down an octave while chatting artlessly to the audience...

I didn't know it was that hot in Britain, Huw, sounds even worse than here. I do hope my folks in England aren't frying to death. Must give them a buzz and check on 'em.

Thanks VERY much for the screws pointer, Bill, didn't even notice them before. (Probably every guitar-player should be forced to attend a lecture entitled "Know Your Instrument" complete with diagrams before they start messing about on their own, but it's one of the pitfalls of being self-taught that you never know quite where things are supposed to be --oh, and you retain the ability to read music but forget the names of notes over time :( The inability to tune in my case is symptomatic of a need to spend more time learning bits that I didn't cover in teaching myself to play these instruments.)

There is no folk scene where I am so my main concern is tuning to the key I normally play in on my other instruments so as to minimise muddle (the key of C, I believe it is. See how limited my music theory is?) But the advice on tuning to other people's instruments is very useful. Time and again when I'm playing along to a CD I become very annoyed because the instrument I'm playing doesn't sound right with the other instruments. Grief, music can be complicated.

The cat, by the way, has stopped showing musical inclinations. Since the arrival of another cat, jealousy has sapped all his creative energies ;)

Cheers all,

Isabel


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: GUEST,Strollin' Johnny
Date: 07 Aug 03 - 12:53 PM

Isabel,

"When I'm playing along with a CD ..... the instrument I'm playing doesn't sound right" - might be the fault of the CD player (I'm not joking, I can tune exactly to my Hi-Fi CD player, then play along with my CD-Walkman and I'm off-key).

Electronic tuners can vary too - if you're playing with other stringed instruments and using a tuner, it's best if you all use the same one.

It really is all down to practice and a little understanding of the physics involved. Keep at it and your ear will 'sharpen-up'. Once you can hear the intervals between strings accurately, and detect the slight wavering 'cycle' when strings aren't resonating perfectly together you'll be on your way.

Johnny.


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: GUEST,Steven G.
Date: 08 Aug 03 - 02:18 PM

Well, to add to this thread, I agree, a great guitar tuner is great. I have a great electronic guitar tuner, a Qwik Tune which cost me 20 bucks to get. It has a great electronic pitch pipe, so you can tune your guitar by ear. Which I really like. You will start developing tuning your guitar by ear after a while. I never tried to tune my guitar by piano, which some people do. Which is interesting. I need to learn the piano so day as well.

Good luck to with your guitar.

Steven


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: GUEST,Steven G.
Date: 08 Aug 03 - 02:24 PM

There is a great instrument tuner software program on Download.com

You can go to www.download.com and type in the Search engine there "In-Tune". You'll find a great tuning computer program, all you need is a microphone hooked to your computer, and you can tune any kind of string instrument.

It is about 1 MB in size. Great little program, I used it all the time.

Steven


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: GUEST,AR282
Date: 09 Aug 03 - 12:53 PM

You have to tune your guitar anytime you take it out from the case or anything like that. There's no getting around it. Even a little bit off can make a song sound sick.

Get a Korg GA-30 electronic tuner. Nice and small, works great and costs under $30. No ifs, ands, or buts--get an electronic tuner if you're serious about learning to play guitar.


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: Mark Clark
Date: 09 Aug 03 - 02:30 PM

I agree that an electronic tuner can be a handy device to have but serious musicians have been doing fine without them for… let's see… oh, yeah, all of human history save the last 25 years or so.

In my opinion, an electronic tuner is a poor substitute for tuning one's ear. Hand a perfectly tuned instrument to a musician with no ear and you still have a musician with no ear. On the other hand, a musician with a trained ear can tune quickly and accurately without an electronic tuner.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Aug 03 - 07:55 PM

"Little trick from an oldtimer. Tune just a touch sharper than the other people you're playing with. Makes you sound more lively. "

I noticed the other day that a harmonica I was buying had been specifically made to do just that for that very reason.

Of course if everyone does that and kept on doing it, it wouldn't be that many years before the only people who could really hear the tunes would be bats and maybe dogs...

And there are plenty of musical instruments played in sessions ove er here anyway that are not at all readily tunable, and in many cases impossible to tune for practical purposes (well you could send a squeeze box away to have its reeds retuned, but sessions aren't normally that extended...). And even with the ones that can be tuned - well, can you imagine a guitarist with the nerve and discourtesy to ask a hammer dulcimer player to retune the whole set of strings rather than retune the guitar?


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 09 Aug 03 - 08:24 PM

Mark, if you are on stage in front of an audience, you don't have time to piss about using your trained ear.

Tuning on stage is a necessary evil which should be accomplished as quickly and painlessly as possible. Hence electronic tuners.

On the other hand, if you are playing for your own pleasure in your living room ...

Murray


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Subject: RE: Tuning a Guitar --how??
From: Mark Clark
Date: 09 Aug 03 - 11:18 PM

Actually, Murray, I tuned by ear on stage in front of an audience several times a week for quite a few years. As a novice, I used to be quite impressed at the way professionals could tune on stage without matching frets or messing about with harmonics or anything distracting. They just grabed a peg and set the string immediately right, often while still playing.

Being somewhat—okay, very—stubborn, I resolved I was going to master that ability and I wasn't going to embarrass myself by asking anyone how it was done. I began to spend a half hour or more each day just setting my guitar out of tune in some random way and tuning as quickly as I could just by listening to the sound of the open strings. At first it went slowly—my ear isn't all that great—but as John Cleese says in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, I got better. I just didn't want the tuning process to break the continuity of a performance and figured I owed it to the other band members to have that skill.

By the way, I also used to work to see how quickly I could change a complete set of strings. I don't know how long it would take me now but back then I could do it at a gig in under two minutes including trimming the ends. A short joke by one of the others in the band was enough time to cover a complete change of strings. I didn't need that speed very often, but it was there if required.

      - Mark


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